DRAWING ON WALLS: A Story of Keith Haring (Enchanted Lion, 64 pp., $18.95; ages 6 to 14) is a tender and beautifully written biography of Haring’s short life. Matthew Burgess, the book’s talented writer, set out to tell Haring’s tale without embellishment, sugarcoating or regret. The result is a joyful celebration of Haring’s world.
In finding a way to address the artist’s homosexuality and AIDS diagnosis, Burgess took inspiration from comments Haring made in an interview some 30 years ago with Rolling Stone about the pitfalls of not being honest: “It gives so much fuel to the people who are telling you that it’s wrong to be who you are. There are so few people who are good openly gay role models or just good people who are respected who are open about their sexuality. Now there has to be openness about all these issues.”
Josh Cochran, the book’s illustrator, who pays tribute to Haring in his own unique style, was similarly inspired by a mural of Haring’s he walked by almost every day while in design school: “The casual fat lines crisscrossing, the vivid washes of color, even the accidental drips are simultaneously effortless and brilliant. … Drawing as stream-of-consciousness poetry is something that I absorbed in large part from Keith.”
So, did this investigation answer the opening question? Are the people responsible for creating these five books sane and sensible?
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